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todayonline - 6 days ago

Trump may soon have to answer rape allegations under oath

NEW YORK — During a December visit to New York City, writer E Jean Carroll says she went shopping with a fashion consultant to find the “best outfit” for one of the most important days of her life — when she’ll sit face-to-face with the man she accuses of raping her decades ago, former US President Donald Trump. The author and journalist hopes that day will come this year. Her lawyers are seeking to depose Mr Trump in a defamation lawsuit that Ms Carroll filed against the former president in November 2019 after he denied her accusation that he raped her at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Mr Trump said he never knew Ms Carroll and accused her of lying to sell her new book, adding: “She’s not my type.” She plans to be there if Mr Trump is deposed. “I am living for the moment to walk into that room to sit across the table from him,” Ms Carroll told Reuters in an interview. “I think of it everyday.” Ms Carroll, 77, a former Elle magazine columnist, seeks unspecified damages in her lawsuit and a retraction of Mr Trump’s statements. It is one of two defamation cases involving sexual misconduct allegations against Mr Trump that could move forward faster now that he has left the presidency. While in office, Mr Trump’s lawyers delayed the case in part by arguing that the pressing duties of his office made responding to civil lawsuits impossible. “The only barrier to proceeding with the civil suits was that he’s the president,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor and now an adjunct professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law. “I think there will be a sense among the judges that it’s time to get a move on in these cases,” said Ms Roberta Kaplan, Ms Carroll’s attorney. An attorney for Mr Trump and another representative of the former president did not respond to requests for comment. Mr Trump faces a similar defamation lawsuit from Ms Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show The Apprentice. In 2016, Ms Zervos accused Mr Trump of sexual misconduct, saying that he kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later groped her at a California hotel as the two met to discuss job opportunities. Mr Trump denied the allegations and called Ms Zervos a liar, prompting her to sue him for defamation in 2017, seeking damages and a retraction. Mr Trump tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing that, as president, he was immune from suits filed in state courts. His lawyers appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, which is still considering the case. Ms Zervos filed a motion in early February asking the court to resume the case now that Mr Trump’s no longer president. Ms Zervos and Ms Carroll are among more than two dozen women who have publicly accused Mr Trump of sexual misconduct that they say occurred in the years before he became president. Other accusers include a former model who claims Mr Trump sexually assaulted her at the 1997 US Open tennis tour a former Miss Universe pageant contestant who said Mr Trump groped her in and a reporter who alleges Mr Trump forcibly kissed her without her consent in 2005 at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Mr Trump has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated. In September, after several unsuccessful attempts by Mr Trump’s lawyers to get Ms Carroll’s case dismissed or delayed, US Justice Department officials under his administration took the unusual step of asking that the government be substituted for Mr Trump as the defendant in the case. Justice Department lawyers argued that Mr Trump, like any typical government employee, is entitled under federal law to immunity from civil lawsuits when performing his job. They argued that he was acting in his capacity as president when he said Ms Carroll was lying. Legal experts said it was unprecedented for the Justice Department to defend a president for conduct before he took office. When Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected that argument, the Justice Department appealed. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has yet to rule on it. It’s yet to be seen whether Justice Department officials under President Joe Biden, who took office last month, will continue to defend the case on Trump’s behalf. The White House and the Justice Department declined to comment. If the appeals court upholds Judge Kaplan’s decision, it would likely clear the way for Mr Trump to be deposed by Ms Carroll’s lawyers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE DNA Ms Carroll’s lawyers are also seeking a DNA sample from Mr Trump. Ms Carroll says she still has the dress she was wearing when Mr Trump allegedly attacked her. “I hung it in my closet,” she said. Ms Carroll said she randomly crossed paths with Mr Trump in the Bergdorf Goodman’s store in the mid-1990s. Ms Carroll, who hosted a TV talk show at the time, said Mr Trump recognised her. The two chatted, she said. Mr Trump asked her to pick out a gift for an unidentified woman, and they eventually ended up in the lingerie department. After asking her to try on a body suit, Mr Trump closed the door in a dressing room, pinned her against a wall, unzipped his pants and sexually assaulted her, according to the complaint. Ms Carroll said she told two friends about the alleged attack shortly after it happened, but did not report Mr Trump to police, fearing retribution from the wealthy and well-connected businessman. Decades later, Ms Carroll went public with her story in a June 2019 New York magazine article, adapted from a new book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. She said she was inspired to recount the incident by the #MeToo movement, which emboldened women to share their experiences of sexual assault and harassment. In photos shot for that story, Ms Carroll, at the request of the magazine’s photography director, wore the same black Donna Karan dress that she said she had worn on the day that Mr Trump allegedly assaulted her. When Ms Carroll filed her lawsuit later in 2019, her lawyer, Ms Kaplan, had a guard escort her to retrieve the dress from her closet for forensic testing. An analysis concluded no semen was found on the dress, but the DNA of an unidentified male was detected on the shoulder and sleeves, according to the Jan 8, 2020 lab report, which was reviewed by Reuters. If the dress does contain traces of Mr Trump’s DNA, it would not prove his guilt. But a match could be used as evidence that he had contact with the dress and to help disprove his claims that he never met Ms Carroll, according to two forensic experts not involved in the case. “How his DNA got on that dress would be the argument,” said Dr Monte Miller, a biochemist who runs a DNA analysis consultancy and previously worked at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s State Crime Laboratory. “It’s for the attorneys and the courts and everybody else to argue about why it’s there and how it got there.” Ms Carroll said she’s confident the DNA on the dress belongs to Mr Trump and wants her day in court. She said she now sleeps with a gun next to her bed because she has received death threats since publicly accusing Mr Trump. “This defamation suit is not about me,” said Ms Carroll, who meets regularly with other women who have accused Mr Trump of sexual misconduct. It’s about every woman “who can’t speak up.” REUTERS


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